Today is World Mental Health Day – an opportunity to raise awareness of mental illness and promote social and emotional wellbeing.
This year’s theme is ‘Dignity in Mental Health – Psychological and Mental Health First Aid for All’. It recognises the need to equip people with the tools and knowledge to tackle the stigma of mental health and provide basic help.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said the Coalition took a commitment to the recent election to roll out Indigenous Mental Health First Aid training as part of a suite of decisive actions to address the mental health issues that exist within many Indigenous communities.
“This month, the Coalition Government will start rolling out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training to more than 1500 people in 60 remote locations across Australia,” Minister Scullion said.
“The workshops will focus on training frontline workers and the broader community about how to recognise early signs of mental health issues, provide support and encourage professional help.
“Staff from the Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy, Community Development Programme and Community Night Patrol are often in contact with people at various stages of mental illness and recovery.
“Tragically, there is still a widespread stigma associated with mental health and this is preventing many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from seeking and accessing early help.
“The roll out of this training will empower people with the skills they need to identify the early warning signs of mental health issues and the knowledge about the most appropriate response for vulnerable families and children.
“As a Conversation Hero with RU OK Day?, I’d encourage all Australians to reach out to family and friends as a first step in connecting communities to prevent suicide.”
First Australians are more than twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental health-related conditions as non-Indigenous Australians. In addition, suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as high.
Recent suicide initiatives supported by the Coalition Government include the Critical Response Project to address suicide-related trauma in Western Australia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.